Mandy and Georgie: double act is back in town

Fred and Ginger. Laurel and Hardy. Morecambe and Wise.

History knows many great double acts, but none as illustrious as Mandy (Peter Mandelson) and Georgie (George Osborne).

Imagine George as Fred and Mandy as Ginger tap-dancing all over Europe, their arms around each other, twins umbilically linked, swirling to the music piped through Oleg Deripaska’s yacht.

Indeed, Mandy & Georgie first became famous as a duo some 10 years ago, when they were entertained by the Russian gangster Deripaska on his yacht in the Mediterranean.

Georgie was Shadow Chancellor at the time, and he probably came along to solicit some well-laundered donations for his party. Mandy, then the EU Trade Commissioner, had known Deripaska since at least 2004, although as far as I know not in the Biblical sense.

Even without the physical part, the relationship thrived and it’s still going strong: Mandy has gone private since then, and his company is doing brisk business with Deripaska’s concerns.

The piquancy of that Mediterranean get-together was that Deripaska, presaging such developments later, was already banned from entry to the United States because of his links with organised crime.

But hey, who said such paid-up British patriots have to follow the Yanks’ lead? What was poison to the Yanks was meat to Mandy & Georgie.

Since then the former aluminium king has been sanctioned all over the civilised world, along with other Russian gangst… sorry, I mean oligarchs, many of whom are on Mandy’s books even as we speak. (For example, he gets $325,000 a year to represent Russian interests fronted by another ‘businessman’, Vladimir Evtushenkov.)

I don’t know which set of books, but, considering that Mandy was twice sacked from the Labour cabinet for corruption, it’s fair to surmise he has more than one. As they say in sports, form is transient, class is permanent.

Nor do I know if George got the donations he was seeking. One way or the other, a couple of years later he found himself at 11 Downing Street – only to be unceremoniously kicked out by Mrs May in 2017.

He landed on his feet to become Editor of The Evening Standard, nominally owned by Evgeny Lebedev, but in fact by his father Alexander, a career KGB officer. (How scum like that are allowed to take over venerable British institutions is beyond my scope today.)

I don’t know if Mandy and Georgie have kept in touch all these years. But the chemistry between the two is still there: two hearts beating as one. The double act is again on the road.

Mandy came out first, getting to the personal nitty-gritty. He doesn’t care about the merits and demerits of the EU – it goes without saying that Britain must continue to be governed by the likes of Juncker, his hands full of fat pension cheques.

Mandy is more interested in the human element. What kind of people would want to leave that particular Garden of Eden, and why?

“They are nationalists in the sense that they hate other countries, and they hate foreigners.” In other words, the 17.4 million Britons who voted to leave the EU are all xenophobes, which is the only reason they want to leave.

Now xenophobia is perhaps the only vice Mandy himself can’t be accused of, as his Brazilian boyfriend (and quite a few prior ones from every corner of the world) will doubtless testify. But on what basis has he reached the conclusion that, say, my friends and I hate foreigners?

I’m willing to bet a small fortune that we know more about Europe, and therefore love it more, than Mandy does.

Both I and my close friend, also a writer, spend half our time in France and travel widely all over the continent. We speak several European languages. Does Mandy?

My other close friends are also cultured, multilingual people, which by definition means they love the place of their culture’s origin. Many of my friends are Catholic Christians, which would make xenophobia rather awkward for them. Yet we all detest the EU.

I’d suggest there are fewer nasty xenophobes among the Leavers than there are pernicious socialists among the Remainers.

Or even socialists like Mandy, who have their fingers in every European pie, including the most rancid ones. He’s welcome to his brand of internationalism – until it lands him in prison, that is.

Unlike Mandy, Georgie talks not personalities but issues: “I think the Brexiteers are essentially being found out.

“They promised this nirvana, this taking back control, so suddenly we’d be in charge of our money; our borders, our immigration policy and all that.

“But the actual result is that they can’t make a decision because the real cost of leaving the EU and the single market is so high they don’t dare do it.”

All that expensive education, funded by flogging enough wallpaper to wrap the globe, has gone to naught. Buddhists achieve nirvana, George, only after death. I don’t think the Brexiteers, at least those I know, are quite as morbidly mystical as that.

As to the substance of George’s puffery, I can only repeat the simile I offered a couple of days ago. He’s like an arsonist who sets fire to a house and then lectures the weeping owners on the dangers of home ownership.

It’s not the Brexiteers who have been found out; it’s those like Georgie, Mandy, their greasy eminence Blair et al., who set out to subvert the will of the people and tie Brexit up in knots.

The cost of leaving the EU isn’t high at all, George, if you compare it with what we’ll be gaining, or rather regaining: the constitutional sovereignty lovingly refined over centuries. That ‘nirvana’ hasn’t yet been delivered only because of saboteurs like you.

It is of course true that, as Georgie points out, our government is trying to dilute Brexit to a point where we’ll lose membership in the EU without gaining independence from it. That’s like the kettle calling the kettle black.

This is happening because those who lead our government don’t want to leave. They’re members of the same apparat (if you don’t know what this Russian word means, George, ask your KGB Standard owner) to which our double act belongs.

It’s they who have been waging the scare campaign, screaming at the people that they’ll starve if we leave the EU, especially without a trade deal. It’s they who come up with one legal and parliamentary challenge after another, trying to make Brexit appear devilishly complicated.

“The actual result” that George is talking about isn’t that of Brexit – after all, we haven’t left yet. It’s the result of the disgustingly underhanded, perfidious effort to nitpick Brexit to death, undertaken in cahoots with the apparat’s EU branch.

But I’m glad our double act has come together again. Birds of a feather, and all that. Mandy and Georgie deserve each other.

Without the EU parents will eat babies

Dinner, a year from now

Britain’s wartime food shortages? Not worth speaking about.

Ditto, the Irish potato famine. Ditto, the famines that throughout history afflicted Russia on average once every seven years. Ditto, the famines either caused or deliberately organised by the Soviets. Ditto, Mao’s Great Leap towards mass starvation.

All these will pale into insignificance compared to the blight that’s bound to devastate Britain should we leave the EU without a trade deal.

As a believer in forcing the Queen to abdicate, disbanding Parliament and introducing direct rule by Jean-Claude Junker, I’d like to point out that we’ll suffer dire consequences even if we leave the EU with a deal.

Any student of history will be aware of the extent to which the country’s well-being has depended on the goodwill of Luxembourg, Estonia and Slovakia. Without them telling us how to run our affairs, Britain has always been reduced to impotence and penury.

But at least we more or less managed to keep mass hunger, malnutrition and alimentary dystrophy at bay. That will instantly come to an end if we exit the EU without first securing a promise to feed us.

That’s why Mrs May and her able ministers are doing us all a favour by issuing their distress warnings. Instead of accusing them of dishonest scaremongering – something those Brexiteer vipers indulge in – we should do as we’re told and be thankful.

Specifically, we must do privately what our supermarkets are already doing institutionally: stockpile staples. Tinned food, packets of pasta and rice, soap, condoms, sugar, salt, Vaseline, candles – things we could do with and especially things we couldn’t do without.

However, such prudent foresight will only delay the disaster, not prevent it. A moment will come when we’ve put the last drop of Vaseline on our last candle and eaten the last morsel of the food we stockpiled.

What then?

The most recent solution to that problem was provided by the British novelist Simon Raven (d. 2001). He was once married for a short while, only long enough to produce a son before absconding.

At some point his abandoned wife sent him a telegram: “Wife and baby starving send money soonest”. Raven’s reply should provide succour to all those who heed Mrs May’s warning about impending post-Brexit starvation: “Sorry no money suggest eat baby”.

An immeasurably greater earlier novelist promoted a similar hunger-relief programme. In his 1729 essay A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift advocated the use of children for nourishment as a way of alleviating a famine in Ireland:

“A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”

If you doubt that we’ll be reduced to infanticidal cannibalism if we fall out with the EU, consider the facts (or better still, don’t consider them and listen to what your auntie Theresa is telling you).

We import 30 per cent of our food from the EU. (And, speaking specifically about Penelope and me, 100 per cent of our wine. I also import 100 per cent of my whisky from Scotland, which, as we know, will split away from the UK after Brexit and probably declare war on England.)

And – are you ready for the truly hair-raising data? – the average British family spends a staggering 10 (ten) per cent of its income on food!!! Juxtaposing this number with the previous one, three per cent of our income is spent on food imported from the EU!!!!!! (I’m running out of exclamation marks.)

In average absolute numbers, rather than those deceptive percentages, the average UK family spends £60 a week on food, of which a mind-blowing £20 is spent on food imported from our benefactor, the EU.

Now suppose that our unauthorised exit upsets Jean-Claude Junker so much that the EU stops all food exports to the UK, making us look for replacements elsewhere.

Suppose also that those greedy Africans and South Americans will fleece us into paying a devastating 10 per cent more for our food imports.

Again, percentages don’t give you an accurate idea of the full scale of the looming disaster. Let me spell it out for you in capital letters, so that the message will remain emblazoned in your mind:

THE AVERAGE BRITISH FAMILY WILL HAVE TO SPEND AN EXTRA £2 A WEEK ON FOOD. THAT’S TWO QUID!!!!!!!! (May I borrow some exclamation marks from you?)

There, I hope you’re now aware of the depth of the nutritional abyss into which Britain will stumble if Mrs May’s darkest… sorry, I mean realistic predictions come true.

Prepare to see a chain of baby abattoirs in our cities. Be ready to hear waiters describe today’s special as: “Shropshire Lad: a thigh of an ethically slaughtered milk-fed one-year-old Anglo baby raised in Shropshire, marinated in garlic and lemon, herb-crusted, slow-roasted in Kent white wine and served with ratatouille – sorry, I mean vegetable stew.”

And especially brace yourself for suffering the worst deprivation of all: drinking colonial wines. Why, the other day I sent a sample of a cheeky Californian Mountain Chablis to the lab and got back the report saying “your dog is diabetic”.

But let’s not go into that: you’ve heard enough horror stories for one day. And auntie Theresa has many more where those came from.

Still think fascism is right-wing?

Our political vocabulary is confused to a point of being meaningless.

Hence the answer to the question of whether fascism is left-wing or right-wing really depends on who’s asking.

A person who perceives himself to be on the right tends to brand as left-wing anyone he doesn’t like, while those he likes are fellow right-wingers.

And those on the left do exactly the same thing in reverse.

In other words, such definitions have a strong element of subjectivity to them, to a point of becoming nebulous. Thus, depending on circumstances, one group may describe another as either left or right – this even though the latter might never have changed its policies or philosophies one iota.

Take Hitler’s National Socialist Workers’ Party. Until 22 June, 1941, it was universally recognised that the word ‘Socialist’ in the party’s nomenclature meant something concrete.

And so it did: the Nazis’ economic programme (Four-Year Plan) was indistinguishable from FDR’s New Deal and barely distinguishable from Stalin’s Five-Year Plan.

Thus the conservatives regarded Hitler as a socialist, while socialists and communists saw him as a socialist heretic, but a socialist nonetheless.

On 23 August, 1939, Hitler reinforced his socialist credentials by signing a pact with Stalin, who was undeniably left-wing.

However, when Hitler attacked Stalin on 22 June, 1941, he became a right-winger overnight. The underlying syllogism was irresistibly simple.

Thesis: Stalin is left-wing. Antithesis: Hitler is at war with Stalin. Synthesis: Ergo, Hitler is right-wing.

Hitler had offered no change in philosophy or rhetoric to justify such a re-branding. What had changed was the left-wingers’ attitude.

I’d suggest that, given such weather-vane inconsistency, it’s best to look at what the Nazis and other fascists said about themselves. This taxonomic method isn’t fool-proof either, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

So, in no particular order:

“The whole of National Socialism is based on Marx.” Adolf Hitler

“I have learned a great deal from Marx, as I do not hesitate to admit.” Adolf Hitler

“We are Socialists, enemies, mortal enemies of the present capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, with its injustice in wages, with its immoral evaluation of individuals according to wealth and money instead of responsibility and achievement, and we are determined under all circumstances to abolish this system! And with my inclination to practical action it seems obvious to me that we have to put a better, more just, more moral system in its place, one which, as it were, has arms and legs and better arms and legs than the present one!” Georg Strasser

“The Capitalist system with its exploitation of those who are economically weak, with its robbery of the workers’ labour power, with its unethical way of appraising human beings by the number of things and the amount of money they possess, instead of by their internal value and their achievements, must be replaced by a new and just economic system, in a word by German Socialism.” Georg Strasser

“We are against the political bourgeoisie, and for genuine nationalism! We are against Marxism, but for true socialism! We are for the first German national state of a socialist nature! We are for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party!” Josef Goebbels

“Lenin was the greatest man, second only to Hitler, and… the difference between communism and the Hitler faith was very slight.” Josef Goebbels

“Socialism as the final concept of duty, the ethical duty of work, not just for oneself but also for one’s fellow man’s sake, and above all the principle: Common good before own good, a struggle against all parasitism and especially against easy and unearned income…” Adolf Hitler

“We want to start by implementing socialism in our nation among our Volk! It is not until the individual nations are socialist that they can address themselves to international socialism.” Adolf Hitler

“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions.” Adolf Hitler, echoing Georg Strasser

“If you love our country you are national, and if you love our people you are a socialist.” Oswald Mosley

“Tomorrow, Fascists and communists, both persecuted by the police, may arrive at an agreement, sinking their differences until the time comes to share the spoils. I realise that though there are no political affinities between us, there are plenty of intellectual affinities. Like them, we believe in the necessity for a centralised and unitary state, imposing an iron discipline on everyone, but with the difference that they reach this conclusion through the idea of class, we through the idea of the nation.” Benito Mussolini

“The outbreak of a socialist revolution in one country will cause the others to imitate it or so to strengthen the proletariat as to prevent its national bourgeoisie from attempting any armed intervention.” Benito Mussolini, echoing Lenin

So why are fascists routinely described as right-wing? I’m afraid there’s another false syllogism at work here.

Thesis: socialism is nice. Antithesis: fascism isn’t nice. Synthesis: Fascism is right-wing.

Start with a wrong thesis, and this is the mess you get. For socialism isn’t nice in either its national or international incarnation.

Both Nazism and communism are logical developments of socialism, they are the harbours towards which socialism sails. Or are they the reefs?

The EU isn’t the worst evil

This statement may anger most of my friends, with slings and arrows already pinging through the air.

In my defence, I’ll point out that the title above doesn’t say that the EU isn’t evil. Quite the opposite: I’m confident it is.

A Europe bossed by a giant unaccountable bureaucracy, using a tissue of lies to cover up its Marxist, or at least quasi-Marxist provenance, is wicked in so many ways that simply listing them would require more space than this format allows.

Hence I hope that this wicked contrivance will burst like a helium balloon touched by a needle – and the sooner, the better.

Many good people share this hope, but the trouble is that they sometimes don’t think beyond it. They forget that, like most things in life, evil has a hierarchy.

They don’t ask themselves what’s going to happen after the EU balloon is pricked. My contention is that this very much depends on what kind of needle does the pricking.

Alas, we’ve been infected with the contagion of presumptive progress, which is the central tenet of our post-Enlightenment modernity. We’ve been brainwashed to believe that any change can only be for the better.

This Panglossian mentality with a forward-looking dimension puts blinkers on people’s eyes and brakes on their thought. When they don’t like something, they want it changed, full stop. And then what? is a question seldom asked.

They ought to remind themselves that the two most satanic regimes in history came into being largely because of this kind of misapprehension, widely held. What we have is bad, was the battle cry, which means that anything else could only be better.

Messrs Lenin and Hitler went on to demonstrate the fallacy of such thinking. They proved that things can always get worse. And superficial thinking driven by emotions, if sufficiently widespread, guarantees that things will get worse.

Of the two examples, that of Hitler is more relevant to today’s situation. For Nazism was to a large extent a reaction to the weak-kneed internationalism of the Weimar Republic.

Hitler screamed and harangued his way to public support by appealing to German nationalism, promising the revival of German dignity and the downfall of all those who had stamped Germany into the dirt.

Under his leadership the German nation did indeed do a Phoenix – for a short while. What happened afterwards should have disabused everyone of the notion that any change is always for the better if the starting point is deeply unsatisfactory.

This brings us back to the metaphorical needle that may puncture the EU balloon. Unfortunately, many good people I know are ready to welcome any such implement, as long as the balloon is indeed punctured.

This position is, to me, neither conservative nor wise, and I use those two adjectives almost interchangeably. I dearly wish to see the EU collapse – provided the collapsing is done by good people and for good reasons. And I’d rather the EU survived than be replaced by something even worse.

Our present situation is fraught with danger. European countries, including Britain, lack real conservative forces (never mind mainstream parties) that could dismantle the EU in the name of everything conservatives hold dear.

Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic had exactly the same problem.

There were plenty of conservatives who detested Weimar and went on to detest the Nazis. But they lacked the political force and energy to reshape the country in their image. The political force was with Hitler, who in temporary alliance with Stalin plunged Europe into its bloodiest catastrophe ever.

One doesn’t espy a potential Hitler anywhere in Europe, but there are plenty of fascisoid parties that alone seem to present a realistic threat to the EU. If the EU is the disease, these groups are the only likely cure. But the cure may well be worse than the disease.

Much as I detest the EU, I’d rather be governed by the European Commission than by the likes of Tommy Robinson, formerly of the BNP and the EDL. The EU is evil, but at least it’s the evil we know.

Looking at the manifestos of some such parties, one finds things with which any conservative would agree: patriotism, national sovereignty, appeal to traditionalism and Christianity, etc.

But underpinning it all is hatred, not love.

The two sometimes coexist dialectically: when something we love is threatened, we hate the threat. However, for conservatives love is primary and hate is strictly derivative. For this lot, it’s the other way around.

One detects fascistic impulses there, the same urge to externalise evil and ascribe it to easily identifiable groups. For the Nazis it was mostly Jews; for today’s fascisoid groups, it’s mostly Muslims (anti-Semitism is only a footnote for the time being); for both it’s homosexuals.

Now any good conservative bewails the importation of millions of those whose view of life is typically hostile to ours. A desire to curtail, or better still stop, Muslim immigration is therefore a normal conservative impulse. However, hatred of Muslims isn’t.

Hate the sin, love the sinner is the quintessence of the Christian position on such matters – and it also applies to homosexuality.

Any real conservative would refuse to regard sexual perversion as an equally valid ‘lifestyle’, and he’d see homomarriage as an obscene abomination. However, and this is a critical distinction, he wouldn’t hate homosexuals. But the fascisoids do.

Interestingly, few such groups are economically conservative, in the modern sense of championing free enterprise, free trade and small government. Most of them, such as France’s National Front, are both nationalist and socialist, which isn’t my favourite combination.

Until such parties take over, their nastiness comes across mostly not in what they say but in how they say it, their style, their passions, their methods. It’s only when they get into government that the torrent of hate rushes out in full flow.

Hitler circa 1932 also said many things that made sense to most Germans and even to German conservatives. They missed the nuances of hatred and vicious malice – they forgot that, as Buffon put it, the style is the man.

Given that historical precedent, Steve Bannon’s self-appointed mission to Europe is worrying. In general, I don’t think it should be up to foreigners to call for a popular revolt against anything in Britain, including the undoubtedly wicked EU.

We don’t need foreign powers to sort out our problems, and that goes not only for eurocrats but also for Americans. However, when asked whether his animadversions represent a call to arms, Bannon replied: “Absolutely”.

Nor should foreigners be allowed to offer tangible support to British politicians they happen to favour, in Bannon’s case the eminently likeable Jacob Rees-Mogg and moderately likeable Boris Johnson. If we oppose foreign meddling in our affairs, we should oppose all such meddling. Nothing else is logically and morally sound.

But Bannon, who until a year ago was one of Trump’s closest advisers, goes beyond supporting nice people like Rees-Mogg and rather less nice ones like Johnson.

He’s out to promote a sort of fascisoid International of France’s National Front, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Germany’s AfD, Austria’s Freedom Party and other likeminded groups (incidentally, most of them are financed by that great friend of the West Col. Putin).

These include British parties like the English Defence League, led until recently by the out-and-out thug Tommy Robinson, whom Bannon calls “the backbone of England”. The backbone of Britain boasts a string of criminal convictions for hooliganism and is currently serving time for breaching bail conditions.

Some of my friends have petitioned the government to free Robinson, and I haven’t studied the details of the case enough to argue against them with any forensic precision. But on general principle I’d rather see the likes of Robinson in prison than in government.

I’d caution those good people against adopting an attitude similar to that popularised by the French Left in the early twentieth century: pas d’ennemis à gauche (no enemies on the Left).

Pas d’ennemis à droite is potentially as dangerous a slogan – especially since most of those fascisoid groups are no more on the real Right than the Nazis were.

Those who allow their hatred of the EU to drive them towards supporting groups like the EDL and cheering people like Bannon, ought to remember another popular saying:

Be careful what you wish for: you might just get it.

Small victory in Crimean war

Should Secretary Pompeo be now known as Mike of Crimea?

Modern governments have refined the art of saying one thing and doing another. Never in the history of Western politics have actual policies diverged so sharply from official lines. (For illustration, may I suggest Brexit?)

So much more enthusiastically must we rejoice whenever the two overlap – as they seem to in the declaration issued by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The State Department has seldom been so unambiguous: “…the United States reaffirms as policy [my emphasis] its refusal to recognise the Kremlin’s claim of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law,” said Mr Pompeo.

And, “…the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.”

And, by way of a parenthetical comment: “Through its actions, Russia has acted in a manner unworthy of a great nation and has chosen to isolate itself from the international community.”

Well put, and never mind the tautology. Putin’s Russia is thereby recognised as a criminal pariah state and, by the sound of it, slated to be cast in that role until it changes its ways.

Does this mean that all those ugly suspicions about Trump being Putin’s agent or at least doormat have been dispelled? Different interpretations of the Pompeo Declaration are possible, but mine is that, if anything, such suspicions have been reinforced.

The contrast between the Pompeo Declaration and Trump’s recent obsequious comments on Putin is too sharp for them to coexist within the framework of a single coordinated policy. When it comes to Russia, the president is clearly at odds with his own State Department, intelligence and counterintelligence services – and, most important, Congress.

In fact, they seem to be at war, and what we’re hearing is echoes of the salvos fired in the raging battle. The unequivocal, steadfast resolve of the Pompeo Declaration suggests that one side is winning, and it isn’t Trump.

There exist other signs as well, such as the two draft laws currently before Congress, both proposed or at least seconded by members of the same party to which Trump belongs, nominally at any rate.

One proposes that, if sufficient evidence of wrong-doing, especially election meddling, is provided by the intelligence community, Congress will be empowered to impose sanctions on Russia without presidential approval.

That bill also represents a rebuke of the president by giving Congress new veto powers to block him from removing sanctions on Russia – something the president apparently wouldn’t mind doing.

Last year, Congress did levy new sanctions on Russia and, when Trump tried to ease them, restricted his authority to do so.

Since an overwhelming congressional majority supported the imposition of sanctions, there was nothing Trump could do about it, but the White House protested vigorously – and has since tried to do all it can to sabotage the bill’s implementation.

According to the president’s staff, the bill includes “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions” that “purport to displace the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments, including their territorial bounds.”

That’s God’s own truth. But the whole point is to curtail the president’s authority to kowtow to Putin. Congress simply doesn’t trust Trump to serve American interests in dealing with Russia and, implicitly, conducting foreign policy in general.

This was re-emphasised yesterday, when several senators introduced a bipartisan bill to prevent Trump from pulling out of NATO without first securing the approval of two-thirds of Senate members.

The bill is a response to Trump’s numerous attacks on NATO, including threats to pull out.

The president in general doesn’t have much time for international organisations, which is a good thing. What’s bad is his evident inability to see the difference between giant supranational contrivances like the EU and purely military alliances like NATO.

However, this bill too is playing fast and loose with the Constitution. Traditionally congressional approval is only required for a president to enter treaties, not to leave them.

Such cavalier treatment of political scripture is another proof of Congress’s manifest lack of trust in Trump. US senators don’t encroach on those sacrosanct tenets – unless there’s clear evidence that a president abuses his constitutional mandate.

Republican leadership may not allow a vote on any such bills, but the very fact that they’ve been put forth suggests the gestation of an inchoate duopoly in foreign policy. And, should the forthcoming half-term elections return a Democratic majority on one House or even both, Trump may well become the first strictly ‘domestic’ president.

I’d pay good money to be a fly on the wall when Trump explains the Pompeo Declaration to his friend Vlad. Putin must be incandescent: after all, if Russia is destined to remain a pariah state for any foreseeable future, Putin’s Crimean triumph becomes a Pyrrhic victory.

In general, watching politicians squirm is among the greatest pleasures of my life, and something tells me that Trump may sooner or later provide a lot of material for my delectation. This, even if I can’t overhear his grovelling chat with Putin.

Too many headers, Gary

Gary is a celebrity. Get him out of here.

Gary Lineker is an intelligent man…

This is to illustrate that the ellipsis is the greatest weapon in the quiver of those who want to deceive without lying.

Thus “John can make any shop girl…” is a technically accurate but nonetheless deceptive way of quoting the statement “John can make any shop girl laugh”.

In that spirit, the full version of my opening sentence is: Gary Lineker is an intelligent man for a footballer. If you infer that an intelligent footballer isn’t exactly the same as an intelligent man tout court, this melancholy inference is usually true.

Famous footballers wholly devote their formative years to ball-kicking. If they don’t, they never become famous footballers.

For a lad to have his world circumscribed by such a trivial activity, he has to have a lowish IQ to begin with. Cleverer boys are irresistibly drawn to exploring intellectual horizons beyond “on me ‘ead, son.”

Starting from a low, or at best average, point, footballers then proceed to head thousands of balls. Each time their brain is jarred and a trauma results, however mild. Then one trauma is piled upon another until the cumulative effect begins to tell.

That’s why so many footballers (Danny Blanchflower, Nat Lofthouse, Ferenc Puskás, John Charles, Gerd Müller, Martin Peters et al) suffer things like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia in their old – or not so old – age. One’s brain can take only so much abuse.

I’m not suggesting that Mr Lineker is showing early signs of dementia. But, judging by his views outside his immediate expertise, he certainly shows symptoms of advanced mental deficiency.

This preamble is essential to outlining the context in which Mr Lineker’s pronouncements on Brexit can be understood. For this striker cum football commentator has announced that he’s going to join the campaign for a second referendum.

Now I often say that lefties aren’t just misguided but dumb. This uncompromising view isn’t based on the final destination of their thought, but on how they get there.

People may have points of view with which I disagree. That doesn’t make them intellectually deficient – provided they can come up with sound arguments. If they do, I may still say they’re wrong and come up with counterarguments. But I shan’t say they’re stupid.

For example, I know a highly intelligent man who argues against the heliocentric view of the universe. As a complete ignoramus in astrophysics, I find his arguments logical, even though I suspect that a professional would blow him out of the water in two seconds flat.

That’s why, though I consider the iconoclast a bit odd, I can tell he’s bright, an assessment borne out by his less controversial pronouncements on other matters.

That, I’m afraid, isn’t the case with lefties in general and Remainers in particular. And it’s even less of a case with those who, like Gary Kick-Ball, demand a second referendum.

Again, the problem isn’t that I disagree with their conclusions. It’s that they reach those conclusions without the benefit of sound thought.

Hence Mr Lineker: “Whether you voted Leave or Remain, did anyone really vote for the mess we seem to be in, let alone the prospect of no deal with all the terrible consequences attached to that?”

To answer that rhetorical question, no. No one voted for the mess. Everyone assumed that even those who disagreed with the vote would simply abide by the people’s will, rather than creating the mess by sabotaging the majority vote.

That’s like an arsonist setting a house on fire and then lecturing the weeping owners on the dangers of property ownership.

Read my lips, Gary, I’ll try to explain this so even you can understand. It’s people like you who created the mess. If they then complain about it, they’re either dishonest or dumb or probably both.

And exactly what are “all the terrible consequences attached to” a no-deal Brexit?

I’m not questioning the terrible consequences. I’m simply wondering about the source of the certainty that they’ll ensue.

For example, how terrible will it be if Britain reverted to her ancient constitution and had her laws passed by her own parliament? How wonderful will it be if, say, a malignant dipsomaniac like Juncker lords it over a government accountable to us?

How terrible will it be if we avail ourselves of that ancient privilege of sovereignty: deciding who’s welcome to settle in our country and who isn’t?

How had we managed to muddle through until 1992 without suffering too many terrible consequences?

Isn’t it logical to suppose that, if we managed to do reasonably well for centuries without the EU, we’ll somehow manage to survive Brexit without too many terrible consequences?

One suspects that the terrible consequences Mr Lineker has in mind are mostly economic. He must find it easier to get his footballing mind around pounds and pence than such difficult concepts as constitution or sovereignty.

Now, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I probably have a firmer grasp of economics than Mr Lineker. Yet I can’t predict with any conviction what the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be.

Neither, I suspect, can those whose grasp of economics is firmer than mine. We simply don’t know.

On general principle, however, sound economic theory suggests that leaving the protectionist bloc that’s the EU and opting for free trade with the whole world is unlikely to turn out calamitous.

Nor does history – or indeed current experience – provide any proof to the belief that we can’t trade with other countries without dissolving our sovereignty in theirs. Japan, for example, has just signed a massive trade deal with the EU without committing herself to being ruled by malignant dipsomaniacs.

Still, I’m willing to admit I don’t know what the exact consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be. How come Mr Lineker does?

A piece of avuncular advice, Gary: sounding confident on subjects about which you know the square root of sod-all ain’t clever.

The campaign behind which Lineker throws his weight is called People’s Vote, and I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a more brazenly cynical name. It’s like ISIS re-branding itself as Religious Tolerance.

People have voted, chaps, or haven’t you heard? Apparently not, judging by the statement issued by the campaign. And if you think its name is cynical, how about this:

“This is a people’s movement holding the elite to account. We the people – from all walks of life and every region and nation in our country – are taking back control of the Brexit process from the politicians like Jacob Rees-Mogg who have failed us, and we demand a People’s Vote.”

On second thoughts, no one can be quite as cynical as that. Mental disorders are in evidence too, and not every spokesman for the campaign is even a professional footballer.

A minor point: ‘every region’ I can understand. But what’s that about ‘every nation’? Are there more than one in Britain? I wasn’t aware of that; I thought we were all one nation. Do they mean every ethnicity? One can never tell with this lot.

So the 17.4 million Britons who voted Leave are all members of the elite led by the backbench MP Rees-Mogg. The real people, all common as muck, are those like Blair, Greening and now Lineker who want to make people vote again – and presumably keep on voting until they get it right.

In other words, those who demand that we act according to the will of the people, especially that viper Rees-Mogg, have failed the people, while those who don’t give a flying header about the will of the people are its true upholders.

That makes sense. Especially for someone who has headed too many balls in his life.

Don’t tell the truth about Muslims

Sarah Champion, MP, is learning her lesson

Without claiming any psychiatric expertise, I’d still suggest that one reliable symptom of a mental disorder is accepting make-believe as real – and vice versa.

If you agree with this cracker-barrel foray into medicine, then you’ll also have to agree that the world we live in shows every sign of collective madness.

The borderline between virtual and actual reality isn’t so much blurred as erased – to a point where only virtual reality is accepted as genuine. Those daring to escape into the real world are castigated, ostracised and increasingly criminalised.

In a lunatic asylum run by the inmates, it’s a sane person who’s considered dangerously mad. Nabokov depicted such a situation in his dystopic novel Invitation to a Beheading, where the principal character is sentenced to death because he’s opaque in a world run by transparent people.

One such opaque person in our own dystopic world is Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham. So far she hasn’t been sentenced to decapitation, not legally at any rate. But she has received hundreds of private threats along those lines.

Like an East German risking his life in an attempt to go over the Wall, Miss Champion dared to flee virtual reality for the freedom offered by the truth (John 8:32). Speaking in public, she uttered these subversively poignant words:

“Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it.”

Yes, you most certainly did. Off with your head.

To start with, Jeremy Corbyn, who is successfully converting Labour into a Trotskyist party with that certain anti-Semitic je ne sais quoi, forced Miss Champion from the Labour front bench. “We are not going to blame any particular group or demonise any particular group,” he said.

There’s one key word missing at the end of that statement: unfairly. Without it, the statement doesn’t make any sense. If a particular group really is guilty, why not blame it?

It’s like saying “we’re not going to demonise the Nazis for the Holocaust, nor blame the Russian and Chinese communists for murdering 120 million people between them.”

If no problem with “British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls” exists, then Miss Champion should definitely suffer repercussions for her calumny. Making death threats is still a crime, but some censure is in order.

However, if the problem does exist, then Miss Champion should be praised for drawing public attention to it, even if she subsequently apologised for her action (she must have wept inwardly while doing so).

I’m going about this in such a pedantic manner simply to emphasise that this is how the issue would be approached in a sane world governed by actual reality. The first and only question to be asked would have been “Is it true?”, not “Does it contradict virtual reality?”

Yet in our mad world the correct question isn’t asked, partly because everyone knows the answer, even if most people don’t want to know it. Which is: yes, the problem does exist.

In 2012, nine men of the origin in question were convicted in Rochdale for running a child sex-abuse ring. That prompted extensive hearings in the House of Commons, which established disturbing facts.

Between 1997 and 2013 some 1,400 children, most of them white girls, were sexually abused in Rotherham predominantly by British Pakistanis. (They are coyly referred to as ‘Asians’, but trust me: we aren’t talking about Koreans here.)

Children were gang-raped, beaten, drawn into prostitution by gruesome death threats to them and their families and so forth, ad nauseam. And it wasn’t just in Rotherham.

Between the 1980s and 2010s, hundreds of girls were drugged, raped and beaten in Telford. Hundreds of rings similar to Rotherham’s were uncovered in Peterborough, Oxford, Newcastle and of course Rochdale.

According to the reports, 84 per cent of the criminals are ‘Asians’, meaning British Pakistanis. Striking farther afield, similar stories can be heard in any European country with a large Muslim presence: Germany, Sweden (where Muslims commit 85 per cent of rapes of girls under 15), Holland – and France.

Just yesterday I chatted with a woman in her thirties who lives with her husband and children in a Burgundian village not far from Auxerre. The nature of her work demands her presence in the city at least twice a week, which is why she’s thinking of moving elsewhere.

Every time she passes a group of Muslim men, she’s sexually harassed. When she declines their obscene advances or knocks off the hands pawing her, she’s called a racist – and other things I’d rather not repeat.

Her ordeal is typical and widespread – to such an extent that it’s hard not to make general statements, like those that got Miss Champion in trouble. Not only has her political career suffered, but she now has to live under police protection because denizens of the virtual world want to kill her.

One understands why the police in those crime-ridden places turned a blind eye for so long, even though they knew what was going on. Investigating Muslim men for abusing white girls en masse would have drawn accusations – and possibly charges – of racism.

Thus the charity Just Yorkshire has accused Miss Champion of “industrial-scale racism” and “inciting and inviting hatred against minorities”. And Muslim politicians in Yorkshire call her an ‘ogre’ and demand that she be deselected and replaced with a Muslim.

In short, Miss Champion is a heretic. She has sinned against the tenets of the only religion recognised in the virtual world, that of multi-culti probity.

This isn’t the place to analyse the Muslim propensity for such misbehaviour in any depth. Suffice it to say that the status of women is rather different in Islam, as anyone will testify who has seen floating through our streets gaggles of apparitions clad head to toe in black Halloween costumes.

It’s possible to trace all sorts of abnormalities, including paedophilia, to the Koran and its author, but I’ll leave such an inquest for Islamic scholars to conduct.

In any case, the outrages in Rotherham, Rochdale and elsewhere were perpetrated by chaps who drink, use drugs and in general display every sign of impiety. It’s not their religion that makes them act in this manner, not directly.  It’s the distant cultural echoes of the religion.

They hear those echoes in every tonal detail and translate them into the language of hate, such as that used by two convicted Pakistani rapists.

“White women,” one of them said, “are good only for people like me to use as trash.” The other one agreed: “All white girls are good for is sex, and they are just slags.”

Much as I despise the society’s-fault line of defence, it’s sometimes justified. Society’s acquiescence doesn’t absolve the monsters of individual responsibility, but part of the blame is indeed society’s.

It’s society that first admitted millions of those who refuse to live by its rules, preferring to impose their own. It’s society that then shifted into virtual reality and allowed alien sociopaths to act with impunity. It’s society that gags anyone who dares protest.

I’m afraid our society’s madness has gone beyond the point where it could be relieved with psychotropic drugs. Something more radical is required, such as electric shock or perhaps frontal lobotomy.

In the absence of radical intervention, things won’t get better. They’ll only get worse. Parents living side by side with large concentrations of Muslims: lock your daughters up.

Can Muslims really integrate?

Absolutely. Provided they’re really bad Muslims.

Borne out by observation over many years, this statement means it’s their religion rather than race that’s the real obstacle in the way of integration.

After all, Muslims who never prostrate themselves towards Mecca may be racially identical to those for whom it’s their favourite form of exercise.

Proceeding from the general to the specific, let’s look again at the Arsenal footballer Mesut Özil, who has announced that he’ll never again play for Germany. His decision, he has explained, is caused by the racist abuse he has suffered throughout his career.

Said abuse intensified no end after he and another ethnically Turkish midfielder had their picture taken with Turkey’s president Erdoğan just before the World Cup.

Germany’s subsequent collapse in the tournament, says Özil, was blamed on that photo opportunity. And the only possible reason is the Germans’ innate racism. “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” says Özil.

Now Germany does have some form in racial abuse, which makes this a plausible explanation. But it’s not fool-proof.

A German saying that, say, a Jew is a cheating Schweinhund may do so out of anti-Semitism. But a possibility does exist that this particular Jew may indeed be a cheating Schweinhund. In that case, it’s not racism but a statement of fact.

Similarly, when German football fans blame Germany’s debacle on the discord Özil introduced into the dressing room, they may be right – and his race may have nothing to do with it.

After all, Özil didn’t simply pose for a photograph with Erdoğan. He and his teammate presented to Erdoğan the resulting photo with the inscription ‘To our president’.

That’s what caused an outburst of indignation all over the country and, critically, among the Germany footballers.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the president of Turkey. The president of Germany is called Frank-Walter Steinmeier. By describing Mr Erdoğan rather than Mr Steinmeier as ‘our president’, Özil and his teammate thereby declared that they consider themselves to be not Germans but Turks.

“It wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country,” explains Özil. Not just his family’s, by the sound of it. He did write ‘our president’, meaning also his.

Hence we’re looking at a third-generation [sic] German, who pledges loyalty to the country of his grandparents’ birth. If I were a German, I’d be incensed – with nary a touch of racism anywhere in sight.

For the record, German football authorities explain Özil’s international retirement differently. Özil, they say, jumped before he was pushed.

He should have been off the team for purely footballing reasons. Uli Hoeness, president of Bayern Munich, expressed this view with characteristic German bluntness: “He had been playing scheisse for years.”

Many Arsenal supporters will doubtless agree, but I’m interested in something else. How come a third-generation German perceives himself as a Turk foremost?

If someone told my American grandchildren that they’re really Russian, and Putin is their president, they simply wouldn’t understand what he’s talking about.

Even I, a first-generation Briton, tend to respond in a most ungentlemanly fashion whenever a similar suggestion is made to me. The head of my state is Her Majesty the Queen, God bless her, not Putin or Trump (I also have a US passport).

True, my family and I are racially similar to the ambient population. But I know quite a few Britons of, say, Indian descent who are as British as Jacob Rees-Mogg – though, unlike him, they grew up in India. Tell them that Ram Nath Kovind is their president and they’ll laugh in your face.

I don’t know Germany well enough, but I suspect the situation is similar there. Some Turks must be seen as Turks, some as German. And the difference largely depends on how they see themselves.

In other words, the perception is cultural, not chromatic. (This is of course not to deny the existence of many kneejerk racists in Germany or for that matter Britain – just look at Corbyn and his jolly friends in the Labour Party. But such troglodytes don’t set the tone, not yet at any rate.)

Özil and presumably the two previous generations of his family must have fought integration tooth and nail. Otherwise it’s hard to explain how he can still self-identify as a Turk. Does he even speak Turkish? I’m sure that, even if he does, it’s extremely limited.

Now I’m convinced that Özil refuses to regard himself as a German not because he’s ethnically Turkish but because he’s religiously Muslim.

Had he lost his ancestors’ religion, he would have also lost their ethnicity, at least as self-perception. He’d be German, and his president would be Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

There’s something about Islam that makes it alien to even a residually Christian culture. I won’t bother to cite any of the 300-odd Koran verses explicitly calling for killing infidels or at least rejecting them as friends – many others, and indeed I myself, have done so thousands of times.

The issue isn’t so much scriptural as cultural.

Our culture can accommodate and absorb other cultures, as it has done for 2,000 years. But other cultures must meet it halfway. It’s easy to befriend someone who wants to be your friend anyway, but impossible to befriend a chap who loathes, or at least despises, everything you stand for.

That’s not to say that a new arrival has to be a Christian to fit seamlessly into the culture of a European country.

As an illustration, you’ve probably heard the story about one Irishman asking another if he’s Protestant or Catholic. “I’m an atheist,” comes the reply. “Yes, but are you a Protestant or a Catholic atheist?”

The message underneath the jocular façade is that there’s more to a religion than just worship. Each religion excretes and wraps around itself a particular cocoon of ethics, morals, social and political organisation, culture, overall way of looking at life.

This cocoon may outlive its source for a long time, though never indefinitely. Thus, even though only few Europeans may be devout Christians, we all live in a Christian civilisation – or post-Christian, if you’d rather.

We respond to life in a Christian manner even if we may not know why. Yet observation shows that someone conditioned within a different civilisation may, with desire and effort, adopt our ways – provided his civilisation is only different, not hostile.

Thus I don’t think a good Muslim can ever become a good Briton, although I’m sure a bad, which is to say atheist, Muslim can. The gap is too wide to bridge – even, as Özil shows, over three generations.

Mr Tacitus, meet Mr Morgan

If the Roman historian could read Piers Morgan’s self-serving apologia of Trump, he’d probably repeat his aphorism “they make a desert and call it peace”.

Tacitus clearly realised that peace is a relative rather than absolute entity: not all peace is equally desirable.

For example, peace may result from craven appeasement. Or from surrender at the very beginning of a war. Or from capitulation at its end. Or from both sides running out of soldiers after a devastating carnage. Or from indeed both countries reduced to a desert. Peace may be a victory of virtue or it may be a triumph of evil.

Neither Morgan nor his best friend Trump seems to realise this. They both try to peddle the unqualified notion of peace qua peace, with Morgan acting as Trump’s mouthpiece. For, according to them, the only alternative to appeasing Putin is a nuclear conflict.

Whether you want to call this a misapprehension or a lie is a matter of taste. I’d call it demagoguery at its most soaring, accompanied by contempt for the audience. These imbeciles will swallow any canard, seems to be the underlying assumption.

One gets the impression that Mr Morgan only ever writes about the US president to have an occasion to mention for the umpteenth time that he regularly hitches rides on Air Force One, chatting to Trump throughout the flight.

Uninteresting if true, is my reaction. That is, it would be interesting if as a result of such intimacy Mr Morgan treated us to some illuminating insights. But he doesn’t.

He merely quotes Trump’s banalities and then puts his own spin on them, making them sound even more banal.

For example, here’s one quote from Trump (note that he calls Morgan by his first name) “Look, if we can get along with Russia that’s a good thing… Piers that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a really good thing.”

“Whether you love or loathe Trump, and notwithstanding his horrendous performance at that Helsinki press conference, he’s got a point hasn’t he?” comments Morgan, displaying the same disdain for punctuation as his idol.

No, he doesn’t, Piers (if I may enjoy the same privilege of familiarity as Trump has). This isn’t a point. It’s an utterly pointless platitude.

Like all platitudes, it raises more questions than it answers. Such as, exactly what does getting along with Russia entail?

Accepting as irrelevant peccadillos all of Putin’s rabid attacks, past, present and future, on Russia’s neighbours? Allowing Putin to ‘whack’ with impunity anyone he dislikes, anywhere in the world? Turning Western countries into giant laundromats for Putin’s purloined cash? Dissolving NATO because it bothers Putin? Accepting that all of Europe is Russia’s sphere of influence, while its eastern part is her dominion as of right?

Is that what getting along with Russia means, Piers? Er… not quite:

“If Trump can now build a new relationship with Putin going forward that enables the US and Russia to collaborate on many mutually important issues rather than being at each other’s throats all the time, then surely we should encourage this?”

No, we shouldn’t. Not before finding out what price we must pay for such collaboration and what those mutually important issues are.

Diving into the sea of platitudes, Morgan then picks from the very bottom the pearls left by others: “As Sir Winston Churchill said: ‘Jaw-jaw is better than war-war’.”

First, Churchill didn’t say that, not in so many words. The exact wording was uttered by Harold Macmillan, repeating something Churchill said to that effect.

But even disregarding this minor lapse, annoying as it is in an experienced journalist, a platitude remains just that even if uttered by a respected source – especially if it’s taken out of context.

Churchill was a loquacious man, and it’s possible to find all sorts of quotations, including mutually exclusive ones, in his writings. But looking at his actions, say in 1940, one doesn’t get the impression that his commitment to ‘jaw-jaw’ was unqualified.

Churchill knew the disastrous consequences of the ‘jaw-jaw’ at Versailles, which fertilised the soil for the growth of a satanic tyranny.

He must have been aware that the 1922 ‘jaw-jaw’ at Rapallo led to the mutual rearmament of the two most evil regimes in history.

Nor was Churchill ignorant of the disastrous ‘jaw-jaw’ at Munich that emboldened Hitler to go to war. As he knew that the 1939 ‘jaw-jaw’ between Stalin and Hitler pushed the button for that war.

And when Churchill did put his putative affection for ‘jaw-jaw’ into practice, at Yalta, he signed his name to an abject surrender, delivering half the world to the red, as opposed to brown, variety of fascism.

Trump needs no lessons in demagoguery from Morgan. He keeps justifying his sycophancy to Putin by asking: “So what am I supposed to do? Start a war?”

No, Mr President. You’re supposed to prevent a war, and the best way of doing so when facing a criminal regime is to display firmness and strength.

By all means, we must talk to Putin, but only in the language he understands: that of strength. The message must be unequivocal: if you want to do business with civilised countries, you must behave in a civilised manner.

If you do, we’ll be happy to meet you halfway. If you don’t – and so far you’ve behaved as an out and out criminal in every conceivable way – we’ll resist you with all we’ve got. And make no mistake about it: we’ve got much more than you have, for all your nuclear braggadocio.

But look at Trump’s actions, not his rhetoric, begs Morgan: “He’s imposed far tougher sanctions on Russia than Obama, severely punished dozens of Russian oligarchs and government officials, threw out 60 diplomats after the Skripal nerve agent attack in Britain…” and so on.

Give the man credit: he does have the gall. Morgan is either ignorant or, more likely, he feels his readers are so stupid they’ll accept every falsehood at face value.

All those things were shoved down Trump’s throat by Congress, with Trump kicking and screaming every step of the way. If those who understand the evil nature of Putin’s kleptofascist regime didn’t constitute an overwhelming majority, Trump would have vetoed every one of those punitive measures.

It may be argued, as Morgan does indeed argue, that saying nasty things to Putin publicly is no way to conduct diplomacy. There’s truth to that statement, but it’s not the whole truth.

For Trump doesn’t seem to be excessively constrained by considerations of diplomacy. He neither minces his words nor pulls his punches when talking to, and about, his European allies. He doesn’t mind hectoring them rudely on what he thinks (correctly, in most cases) is the truth.

At the other end of the political spectrum, he often uses rather undiplomatic language when addressing the tyrants ruling such countries as China, North Korea and Iran.

So why is Putin singled out for velvet-glove diplomacy? Granted, he’s no Kim or Rouhani, but then neither is he a Mrs May or a Frau Merkel.

Morgan insists that we don’t know how Trump talked to Putin behind closed doors. Quite. However, every indication is that he was even more, rather than less, supine than in his public pronouncements.

I’ve said this a thousand times if I’ve said it once: I like many of Trump’s policies, and I dislike relatively few. This ratio is much better for Trump than for any of his predecessors, certainly since Reagan – and infinitely better than Obama’s.

But if he’s indeed singing Putin’s song because Putin has something on him, none of that would count for toffee. He ought to be not only impeached, but put away for life.

So what does Putin have on Trump, if anything? The answer is a resounding I don’t know.  But it’s extremely likely that he has something.

According to Trump’s own sons, the financial ties between Trump and Putin have been more than intimate for a long time. ‘Putin’ in this context is shorthand for history’s unique fusion of secret police and organised crime that rules Russia and disposes of her wealth.

Eric, Trumps younger son, once explained in an interview that neither recession nor Trump’s multiple bankruptcies prevented his companies from getting financing: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”

The elder son Donald reiterated that “… Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets… We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Anyone who thinks that the Russians are so generous simply for altruistic reasons knows nothing about the modus operandi of either the KGB or  organised crime.

And when in 2013 Trump brought his travelling bordello of the Miss Universe contest to Russia, only very inept or lazy intelligence operatives would have been unable to gather heaps of compromising material (kompromat in Russian).

Trump dismisses such charges by saying that, if the Russians had kompromat on him, they would have used it long ago.

No, they wouldn’t. That would mean blowing their agent while he’s still of use. It’s only when Trump stops being useful to Putin that such material – if it exists – will see the light of day.

Conjecture? Of course it is. But it isn’t groundless conjecture, with Trump providing more than enough encouragement for it.

As to Morgan, read your Tacitus, Piers. Useful exercise, that, unless you’re happy piling up truisms on top of banalities and platitudes.

Manny’s bodyguard plays rough

Manny and Brigitte, pretending it’s business as usual

Learning that my good friend Manny is in deep political trouble, I felt I simply had to offer him a word of consolation and perhaps even advice.

Speaking to me on the phone, Manny had sounded brave and tried to dismiss the gravest crisis of his presidency as “a storm in a D-cup” (Manny is proud of his ability to make silly puns in English).

And he refused to dignify with a comment all the scabrous innuendo that accompanied the purely political attacks in the press.

So what if his bodyguard impersonated a policeman and beat up two protesters during the 1 May fun? “Sacré bleu,” said Manny. “It wasn’t moi who hit those canaille, was it?”

For all his attempts to play the crisis down, I could sense Manny was in distress. That’s why immediately after hanging up I jumped into my car and drove to the Palais de lÉlysée, just two hours away.

I was met at the door by Brigitte, France’s First Foster Mother, who was glad to see me. Apparently my arrival interrupted a screaming fight between the two.

“Manny,” cried Brigitte into the room behind her, “Ici Alexandre to see you, mon petit.”

“Tell him to go away, maman,” Manny half-shouted, half-sobbed. “He’s a nasty and ghastly person, and I never want to see him and his muscles again, not after he dropped me in the merde!”

“But no, it’s not Alexandre Benalla, silly billy,” said Brigitte. “It’s your ami A-lex.” She charmingly pronounced my name with the stress on the second syllable.

“Oh come right in, A-lex,” sobbed Manny. “Please help me. Maman says it’s all my fault!”

“But of course it is, mon petit,” said Brigitte. “You shouldn’t have let that con Benalla dress up like a cop and then act like one.”

Bien, maman, I admit he acted a bit rough…”

Franchement, chéri,” cried Brigitte. “Didn’t I tell you mille times never to use that word again! All la presse is talking about is that Benalla was your bit of rough!”

“Just because he covered my back during the campaign…”

Brigitte’s scream made Marie-Antoinette’s dinner service in the corner cupboard chime loudly and discordantly. “Don’t ever say THAT in public, either you espèce de crétin!!! Repeat after me: He! Did NOT! Cover! Your! Back! He was in charge of your security!!! Merde alors!”

“But maman,” protested Manny. “No general can ride into battle with his rear uncovered…”

Ferme ta gueule! Shut up, you nincompoop, or I’ll ground you for a mois!” I noticed a long time ago that at moments of stress Brigitte instantly slips back into her old persona of a school mistress (no Manny-style pun intended).

“Be reasonable, maman,” pleaded Manny. “Is it my fault that Benalla likes to wear a police helmet when we… face the crowd?”

“Are you saying he’s not only a thug and a …, well, you know what he is, but also a fetishist?”

“All I’m saying, maman, is that at least he dressed up as a French cop, pour l’amour de Dieu! He could have dressed up as Ilse Koch, the she-wolf of the SS!”

I felt it was time for me to intercede. “Manny,” I said. “We don’t mean to be prying into the intimate-most details of your private life. But Brigitte is right: you should have sacked him long ago…”

“Oh oui?” whimpered Manny. “How would you like to sack Pénélope?” (He always pronounces my wife’s name à la française.)

 This was getting too crazy for words. If a man doesn’t know the difference between a spouse and an employee, and acts accordingly, he’s too far gone to listen to sensible arguments.

“Never mind,” I said. “Concentrate on diffusing the crisis as best you can. How about you issue a public promise, your arm around Brigitte, that no member of your security detail, nor any French policeman, will ever again stamp on a protester unless severely provoked?”

“You know, I can’t do that, A-lex,” sighed Manny. “No one would believe such a promesse. This is France, mon ami. It’s our contrat social. They riot, we stamp on them. Everybody understands.”

“And that other stuff?”

“Everybody understands that too. This is France, mon ami.”